People with diabetes must keep track of their carbohydrate intake, particularly sugar. High sugar consumption raises the risk of blood sugar spikes, which can lead to symptoms of high blood sugar and related problems.
Some people seek out sugar substitutes in the hopes of reducing their risk of diabetes. Coconut palm sugar is a common option.
It’s being promoted as a healthier alternative to normal sugar, but does it live up to the hype? Let’s investigate whether coconut sugar is good for diabetes.
What is coconut sugar?
Coconut sugar, also known as coconut palm sugar, is made from the sap of the coconut palm tree, not the fruit of the coconut palm tree.
Coconut palm sap is harvested by cutting into the tree’s flower-bud stem to gain access to the nectar. The sap is mixed with water, boiled into a syrup, and then dried and crystallized.
They next break up the dried sap into sugar granules that look like conventional table or cane sugar.
Because it is plant-based and lightly processed, coconut sugar is a favorite sweetener in many vegan diets.
Some people believe that coconut sugar is more healthful than conventional table sugar because it is a plant-based, natural sweetener. In terms of nutrition and calories, coconut sugar is nearly equal to conventional cane sugar.
Types of sugar found in coconut palm sugar
Coconut palm sugar is equivalent to conventional cane sugar in terms of calories and carbs. Sugars, which are simple carbohydrates, make up the majority of both goods.
Sucrose is found in a variety of foods. The most sucrose is found in added sweeteners found in processed meals, sweets, and beverages.
According to a publication in the journal Nature, coconut palm sugar contains less sucrose than other sugars, although it still includes 70–80 percent sucrose.
Coconut sugar is mostly sucrose, with little glucose. The most quickly absorbed type of sugar is glucose. A quick and significant blood sugar surge is more likely the more glucose a person consumes.
Fructose is a natural sugar found in fruits. Other nutrients included in fruits include fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This makes whole fruits a healthy dessert option for most individuals, even diabetics.
Fructose is found in both coconut palm sugar and cane sugar. Despite having a lower glycemic index (GI) when found in fruits, experts believe that when consumed as pure sugar or as added sugar in processed foods, fructose may create difficulties. This is particularly true for diabetics.
Is coconut sugar good for diabetes?
No! Coconut sugar isn’t any better for diabetics than the ordinary white sugar (cane sugar) is.
Even though coconut sugar has a little upside, it doesn’t get a pass for diabetics because it still poses a risk of increasing blood sugar levels the same way cane sugar does.
Other elements that may influence a person’s choice of sugar include its Glycemic Index (GI) score and the other nutrients it provides, in addition to its sugar level.
A GI score is low if it is 55 or less, medium if it is 56–69, and high if it is 70 or more, according to the American Diabetes Association. Because coconut palm sugar has a lower GI score, some people believe it is healthier.
Foods with a low GI score do not raise blood sugar levels nearly as much as foods with a high GI score.
According to statistics from the University of Sydney in Australia, coconut palm sugar has a GI score of 54. Therefore, coconut sugar is relatively safe for diabetes.
However, coconut sugar cannot be considered a better substitute to regular sugar, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Coconut sugar, despite having a lower glycemic index, nonetheless elevates blood sugar levels because it has the same amount of carbs and calories as conventional cane sugar.
Coconut sugar has a lower GI than conventional white sugar.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale that determines how diet affects blood sugar levels. Foods with a high GI are quickly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in an increase in blood sugar levels.
Low GI foods digest and absorb slowly, leading blood sugar levels to rise more slowly.
Coconut sugar has a glycemic index of 54, which is lower than standard white sugar’s 65. Both of these sugars, however, increase blood sugar levels.
Coconut Sugar’s Potential Health Benefits
Coconut sugar has a few health benefits, but it is largely a sweetener with little nutritional value.
Here are a few of the health advantages of coconut sugar.
Preventing low blood sugar levels
For energy, the body uses glucose. Coconut sugar, like brown sugar and cane sugar, can help raise blood glucose levels and avoid low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia.
You may feel hungry, unsteady, sweating, dizzy, or queasy if you have hypoglycemia. It can potentially cause coma and seizures.
Coconut sugar is an excellent alternative if you’re looking for a natural, plant-based sweetener to maintain your blood glucose and energy levels.
Blood sugar levels are less likely to increase.
Coconut sugar contains a small amount of inulin, a type of soluble fiber that helps prevent blood sugar spikes after meals. People with diabetes may benefit from foods that contain inulin.
Potential Risks of Coconut Sugar
Below are some of the risks posed by coconut sugar when overused.
Oral health risk
Sugar consumption, including coconut palm sugar, has been linked to an increased risk of oral infections and dental issues.
This is due to the significant number of fermentable carbs found in sugars. Diabetes makes people more susceptible to infections and gum disease.
When a person has diabetes, infections and wounds take longer to heal. They can potentially swiftly deteriorate, leading to additional difficulties. Gum disease can also make blood sugar regulation more difficult.
Coconut palm sugar, like many other sugars, is tooth-damaging. People with diabetes who ingest sugar should take extra care to keep their teeth clean.
High calories content
Coconut sugar is high in calories despite the fact that it has very few minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. To utilize these nutrients, you’d have to consume so much coconut sugar that the calorie count would certainly surpass any nutritional advantage.
Coconut sugar is treated similarly to table sugar by nutritionists, who advocate limiting your intake. You won’t save calories by using coconut sugar for cane sugar in recipes because one teaspoon of cane sugar includes 16 calories.
What Effect Does Coconut Sugar Have on Blood Sugar?
Despite having a lower glycemic index than ordinary white sugar, coconut sugar is still able to increase blood sugar levels.
Your pancreas releases insulin in response to a spike in blood sugar levels when you consume sugar. Insulin is a hormone that aids the body in converting sugar into energy.
Sugar spikes blood sugar levels, whether it’s coconut sugar, honey, or conventional table sugar. As a result, coconut sugar should be used in moderation.
Coconut sugar isn’t any better for diabetes than the normal cane sugar and may add little to no extra benefits to the diet of a diabetic relative to what cane sugar will do.
As such, any sugar, including coconut sugar, should be consumed with caution by diabetics. If they want to include sugar in their diet, they should do so in moderation and keep in mind the carbs and calories it contains.